The St. Louis Blues kept on chugging through their preseason on Friday night. Despite traveling across the country, the team turned in, perhaps, their best performance yet.
The St. Louis Blues really came to play on Friday night. Though I’m sure Washington Capitals fans will say their team did not show up, the Blues turned in their best performance to date.
The Blues put a goose egg up on the board defensively and scored a quartet of goals in a 4-0 win over the Caps. While anyone who talks or writes about the Blues keeps saying take preseason with a grain of salt, it is exciting to see what the team is doing so far.
The reason it is exciting is because of who is stepping up and performing. Last night, Robert Thomas scored twice, Klim Kostin got his second goal of the preseason and Connor Bleakley scored as well.
So, let’s get into the good and the bad from the game in our nation’s capital.
Pros: The kids keep on scoring.
The Blues have cranked out the offense, no matter who is in the lineup and they have rotated a lot. I mean a LOT. Vince Dunn is the only guy that has played in all three games.
Regardless of that, the team is scoring at a good clip, averaging just over three goals a game. On top of that, it is almost all prospects scoring.
Of the team’s ten goals so far, all but three have been scored by kids. Vladimir Tarasenko has two, Jaden Scwhartz one and the rest are spread out.
Thomas and Kostin are now tied with Tarasenko for the team lead in goals scored. These are the guys you want stepping up.
Whether any of these prospects earn a spot to start the year or not, the fact they are producing when it matters most for them is impressive.
Cons: Only the kids are scoring.
Let’s not overblow this. The veterans are not seeing much game action. As mentioned, only Dunn has played in every game.
The Blues are giving extended looks to their youngsters. They know the veterans are good to go and don’t need preseason to get into shape.
Still, the fact that only two veterans have scored is a tiny bit concerning. Tarasenko and Schwartz only played in one game so far and managed to produce.
It is great to see the kids stepping to the table, but seeing the vets lead a little bit would be nice as well.
Again, this one is more a con just to have a con. If they aren’t playing, it is hard to score.
Pros: Vince Dunn is being given every opportunity.
Dunn has a great shot at making this team. He has yet to put up a point, but he’s getting the lion’s share of the minutes.
The mere fact that he’s played in every single game so far shows that the team wants him to take it upon himself to step forward. He’s been dependable and has earned the time given to him.
He’s generally played right around 20 minutes or more, which means the team has confidence in him to play in the higher pressure situations.
If he can turn on his offensive game, he might have a good shot to crack the roster given recent injury problems.
Cons: A big lack of hits.
This is more of a personal issue than anything. I grew up when Scott Stevens was terrorizing NHL forwards and hits were the norm.
The NHL is slowly becoming more like a European league with hits fewer and farther between. So, the fact the Blues only had 13 hits should not be surprising.
It is simply disappointing. I’m really impressed with all these prospects so far, but it would be nice if some still wanted to throw the body around a little.
13 hits is just kind of embarrassing. Mike Yeo likes to play a high-pressure, forechecking style but the team seems to have abandoned the physicality.
I understand they have become a smaller team in recent years, but you can still throw a body to let them know you are there.
Pros: Wade Megan might be for real.
Last year, many of us were impressed with what Megan did in the NHL. He played well enough in short stints with the Blues to wonder if he should stay up.
The level headed of us knew that was not likely and it is rare for sudden AHL bursts to translate. Megan is doing his best to push that aside.
After leading the AHL in goals last season, he has carried that over to the NHL preseason this year. Megan assisted on two of the team’s goals against Washington after scoring the game before.
Megan is not going to make this team as a regular. He would be a rotation guy, which would make him sit in the pressbox more often than not.
Most guys would take that though if they were going to be in the NHL and get that NHL money. Megan might be earning that shot.
Cons: Magnus Paajarvi seems to be shrinking back to his previous self.
Paajarvi had a great finish to 2016-17. He barely resembled the player we thought we knew. He was confident, slick and skillful.
Much of that has yet to be seen this preseason. He’s been given decent minutes in two games and has yet to score a point and is a minus-2 defensively.
He’s almost assured a spot given the team’s injury problems right now. However, right now, he is not earning it at all. It is still early though.
Pros: Ville Husso is great again.
For the second game in a row, Husso has been impressive. He was given a full game in this one and posted a shutout.
It won’t officially go down in his stats as a shutout in the NHL, but the experience is invaluable. I don’t care if this is Washington’s A, B or C team. A shutout is a shutout at the professional level.
These guys are all fighting for jobs and to impress. Husso came up with some big stops when he needed and bailed out his defenders on the rare occasion they needed it.
27 shots against is not a ton of work. Still, as a goaltender, you can only stop the shots the defenders let through and Husso did that.
Final Thoughts: Another impressive showing.
These games don’t mean squat come the regular season. You know that and I know that. You cannot overlook good performances though.
Scoring four goals and keeping your opponent off the board is good whether it’s preseason or not. Additionally, we got guys continuing to show that they fully intend to make the coaching staff make the hard choices.
Tage Thompson got his name in the book with an assist. Thomas showing some scoring touch is great as well since that is not his forte.
It was just a good performance overall. Good to see that the team system seems to be taking hold no matter who is out there.
The Blues keep it going with a home game against Dallas on the 23rd. There will also be an open house, with prizes given away, at 10:30.